Starting Up In Stand Up – Hitting The 500 Mark!

"Gordon Bryan"As someone starting out in the world of stand up comedy, I’ve hit the 500 mark. If you don’t know what that is, then read on for a goal achievement lesson…

No, I’ve not hit 500 shows. In fact, I’ve done 20 shows. It seems to be a consensus that you need to do 100 shows before you find your voice onstage, or before others will begin to take you seriously.

No, I’ve not hit 500 in money earned. My total on that front is from 2 shows which split the donation bucket from the audience on the way out – £13.75.

So, what’s the 500 mark that I’ve hit, and what’s the lesson..?

Well it’s 500 spent!

With train fares and petrol, parking costs, drink at venue, it’s been around £25 per show, so 20 shows adds up to £500. Phew! So to get to that 100 show mark I’ll be looking at around £2,500.

It probably won’t be that much, because you learn as you go along with new ventures, and one thing I’ve discovered is that the audiences can be better outside London. By better, I mean there actually *is* an audience, which is not always the case with London open mic shows!

The audience seems to be there to actually see comedy, so are in the mood to laugh. This makes for a much better show, so as well as being cheaper for me to get to, they serve a much better purpose for me to develop.

The goal achievement lesson, is that this cost is the price I have to pay, literally, to pursue that particular goal. I’ve long written about having to be prepared to pay the price on a goal achievement journey, that if you aren’t prepared to pay it, then fair enough, but that’s a choice you make.

Most of the top comedians started out travelling around all over the place to do a few minutes here, a few minutes there, at their own cost, to learn their craft and get themselves out there. They were prepared to pay the price.

I’ve had a fun time so far –

I’ve done rooms above pubs, rooms below pubs, rooms behind pubs, rooms that *were* the pub! Hotel lounges, a converted lorry, small theatre spaces, and actual comedy clubs.

I’ve had my material get big laughs, I’ve had the same material get deathly silence. I’ve had promoters tell me they enjoyed my act, another promoter told me I was painful to watch.

I’ve had audiences of 70+, I’ve had audiences of no-one but 8 other comedians. I’ve done an MC gig, and hosting a show is fun.

I’ve met some warm supportive folks on the circuit, and I’ve met some who are, er, less friendly.

It became very obvious, very quickly, that do stand up as anything other than a hobby, is a long hard slog. There are so many people out there doing it, because there is no barrier to entry, and there is a never ending supply of stand up on TV nowadays to get people thinking ‘I’ll try that’.

I can see the levels of progression, and each level is just as full as the others – as I say, a long hard slog. Developing the act is no easy task, because the only way to get settled in your act is to do it over and over, and find out what works consistently and what doesn’t.

Once you get to that stage, you try to extend what you have with new material, which might work at one gig, but not the next, and it’s down to you to work out if it’s simply bad material, or it was not right for the audience, or the venue, or the way it was delivered.

All that takes stage time, and that means lots of gigs, which means £500 for 20 gigs.
I’ve had to ease my foot off the pedal slightly because of that, and am hoping to rectify that situation by putting my foot down in other areas to increase money coming in!

So, to achieve any goal, (look to your own goal and see how it applies), take action and get out there in the field, Find out what works, and what doesn’t, meet new people who are in the same field, network, and above all, be prepared to pay the price or be prepared to accept that you aren’t!

Do let me know what you think, and feel free to ‘like’ ‘share’ ‘tweet’ etc, thanks!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. Don’t forget you can grab my motivational book ‘Transform Your Life in 21 Days!’ on Kindle – the price will be going up substantially in 2014!
P.P.S. If it’s money that’s stopping you following your goals, take a look at my coaching, offering tools and motivation on how to make money online!

Do leave a comment!

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  • That seems so wrong to spend so much money with little learned apart from lessons learned. But, I guess it’s the same with any endeavor. Like novel-writing for instance. I’m trying to break into the book sales market without spending any money. my effort isn’t working. Thanks for the good example of the way to go.

    • Hi Francene,
      Book sales? Do you mean publishing your own stuff? Shouldn’t be that pricey if doing it online.

      As for me, yes sometimes a lesson is all I get for the cost, but as you say that’s often the way, and it’s a good positive view to take.
      Cheers, Gordon.

  • Hi Gordon – wow! Good on you for getting out there. I completely get it! If you’re in my part of the world any time soon (Cardiff…) I’d love to come see you.

    • Thanks Nicola! At the moment I am still discovering loads of shows as local to me as possible – would be nice one day to combine a gig in Cardiff with a Wales home match, that would be fun!

  • I think you’re on the right track. Just realizing the slog, is a way of conquering it!! Amazon never made any money for 7-10 years after start up. May the power be with you!! I think you’ll make it. You’ve got my vote!!

    • Hi Carol,
      Yes, it’s easy to forget how hard Amazon had to struggle in their early days, that’s a great example!
      Cheers, Gordon

    • Cheers! I think the sharing buttons went when I updated the blog to the latest version – thanks for the heads up, I hadn’t even noticed – I’ll get on it!

  • Like Francene, I’m an author (Hi, Francene!) and although it is cheaper to publish nowadays, there are still lots of costs involved – editing, cover design, printing in my case (as I don’t want Amazon to have a hold over me!). I’m guessing that my first book (due out Jan) will have cost me in the region of £1500 to publish – and that’s even after taking advantage of a lot of goodwill from folks willing to share the skills I don’t have (and vice versa).

    But I see it as an investment; you have to put something into your project initially and have faith that at some point on the journey, there will be payback. If you believe in what you’re doing and persist on your route to your goal, there will be success – whether you measure it in number of laughs, money earned, or readers feedback.

    Good luck, Gordon!

    • Hi Katherine,
      I guess I’m a bit surprised it costs that much, but you are right that in investment terms in the long run it’s not much if you believe in the product, and persist on the route, which is a good point – certainly that’s true in the world of stand up, where there’s a high turnover rate of people starting and dropping out!